Conversations with my (real) imaginary friend, my mom
First of all, let me start by saying that my mom is alive and well. I talk to her fairly constantly via phone (and she's extremely active on social media...perhaps too active). When I say "imaginary" friend, I really mean that I sometimes refer back to quips and phrases she used to say to me when I was a kid so that I can address a current (adult-ish) issue on my own. I find that many of the things she'd say to me back then apply now more than ever, and "hearing" her say them to me generally speeds up the process of me pouting/sulking/swearing to finding some semblance of peace. Here are the MVPs, for posterity's sake.
This one gets a lot of play time. Back when I was a kid, this phrase was usually used to "correct" me when I started to cry over something stupid, or if I took a tumble that shocked me more than hurt me. It still applies, but more to dealing with youtube commenters, walking to my car by myself at night, airplane turbulence and youtube commenters. Did I mention youtube commenters?
"Save those tears for something REALLY sad"
Based on this phrase and the last one, you might assume my mom didn't care much for blubbering idiot children. And you'd be right. "Attention" tears were simply not tolerated, and yet in retrospect I appreciate her wording immensely. She could have easily said, "stop crying, you're not fooling me because you're 4 and your acting is atrocious" but nay, she found a way to make it a lesson about picking and choosing. For most of my childhood, I actually believed that we (humans) had a finite amount of tears, and that if we didn't use them for good reason they'd be gone when we needed them. Now, obviously in my adult life I've cried over some stupid shit. PMS never ceases to humiliate me, and I really believe that the ASPCA has made a lot of money via menstruating women's hormone imbalances (screw you, Sarah McLaughlin). However, when I'm better in charge of my emotions, this phrase has come in handy in weighing the actual "worth" of a difficult situation. Is it worth being upset about? Is it worth putting energy into?
"You're on the ride"
This one was never literal, as A) I don't think we've ever gone on a ride together (until "Peter Pan's Flight" at Disneyland last week, actually!) and B) rollercoasters have never been our cup-o-tea. Rather, this phrase has always been a metaphor for uncomfortable situations that one has little to no control over. Someone farted in the elevator? You're on the ride. Plane stuck on the runway for three hours? You're on the ride. Food poisoning? You're one the ride. The very mechanism of a ride says that the ride is over when it's over, and no sooner. So what it usually means is, "hang in there." However, if there's any way in hell to enjoy the ride you happen to be on, you might as well (because baby, YOU'RE ON THE RIDE).
"You catch more flies with honey"
...than with vinegar. I have always been quicker to anger than I'd like to admit. In fact, if anyone remembers "Animaniacs," my family used to lovingly refer to me as Katie Kaboom thanks to my short fuse. My mom, after what I'm sure took many episodes of stooping to my level and yelling back at me, would remind me that I'm never getting anywhere by pissing people off. These days, while I think I'm much better than I used to be, I've found that being married to Justin has shown me that I have room to grow. He has mastered the art of "catching flies" with honey, as I've seen through his relationship me, his friends and family and especially strangers. He always repeats people's names back to them, asks them how they're doing and stays calm (even when they've lost our luggage, or our reservation, or double-charged us for something). Sweet-talk is so much harder for me than showing how exasperated I am about a mishap, and yet I always hear my mom's voice in my head (even when I'm breathing fire and making an ass of myself).
"Do you need a happy pill?"
No, my mother was not offering a three-year-old anti-depressants (although I currently do take them, and have from time to time in the past). When I was a toddler, my parents began to catch on that I was EXTRA crabby when I was hungry. I was eventually diagnosed with hypoglycemia and--get this--DUMPING SYNDROME (a horrifically and hilariously named condition where your stomach contents empty too quickly into your duodenum, also known as rapid gastric emptying). These conditions pre-dated my type one diagnoses by many years, and the only way to treat me (much like when I have a low blood sugar episode today) was to FEED ME. Easier said than done when you're a new parent dealing with a grumpy kid, so my mom developed a system where she kept a bowl of M&M's on the counter in our kitchen. When she suspected I needed sugar, she'd give me some "happy pills" (which I'd gladly accept) and if my mood evened out a little, she knew it was time to eat again. What a difficult beast of a robot-child I was. Anyway, these days I wear a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) on my body which alerts me when my sugar is dropping, though many times there's a brief lag. When my meter isn't 100% accurate, I find myself asking myself (in times of grumpiness), "do you need a happy pill?"
M&M's are no longer my go-to, but the system is still in place after all these years.
Bonus: Things my dad used to say that have made it into my imaginary conversations as well...
- Do you have gas?
- Did you wash your hands?
- Do you need to tinkle before we leave?
- Bus your dish to the sink and then you can be excused.
Still Type One,